Butterfly Name Lists

Hank & Priscilla Brodkin hankb at theriver.com
Sun Apr 2 15:46:13 EDT 2000

Paul, Jeff, et al
Let me stick my neck out here.  After carefully reading and privately
corresponding with folks about this issue I would like to add my take on
There is no question a scientific name list committee staffed by
butterfly systemicists and taxonomists, not just folks who "know a lot
about butterflies" is seriously needed.  Most folks feel this should
best be done under the auspices of the Lepidopterists' Society.  I still
find it hard to understand why this was not done in the first place. 
One answer I get is that was too "controversial".  Is not sorting out
controversy what science is all about?
Unlike the world of ornithology, where the AOU has taken both common and
scientific names under their wing - most members of Lep Soc use
scientific names only.  If that organization is to be worth it's salt it
should go for it and do the science necessary to prepare an up to date
list.  Issues that are not resolved can be tabled until a future
In ornithology the AOU meets periodically and every year issues
supplements to their check lists.  Every 15 years or so they publish a
complete new checklist that covers birds over all of North America,
Central America, Hawaii, and the West Indies.  We are talking about over
2000 species here, listed with changes, synonyms and OTHER OPINIONS
listed. The ABA - American Birding Association - basically just
rubber-stamps the AOU list.
And the field guides do have to gradually conform to this list.  This
produces an inconvenience only to the most casual of birders.
After the scientific nomenclature and taxonomy of butterflies is sorted
out by Lep Soc - then NABA should take it from there and make the common
name list, since they are the advocates of using common names as much as
possible and most Lep Soc members are not interested in common names 
It sounds to me that NABA and Jeff are acting partially out of
frustration because of perceived inaction, perceived or real, on the
part of either Lep Soc or Paul's committee to do the necessary science
in time for NABA's mission.  But I do not feel that this expediency is a
reason to bypass the scientific methodology to prepare a sound and
carefully reasoned scientifically sound list.  The worst possible thing
that NABA can do for NABA and its members is to prepare a list that is
not respected by the scientific community. At least the first NABA list
had recognized taxonomists and systemicists on board, the key word here
is "RECOGNIZED" and I am not implying that the members of the new NABA
committee mentioned are not extremely knowledgeable, including at least
three members whom I consider from my dummy's point of view to be
Hopefully the outcome of all of this will spur both organizations to
action.  But the ball first, IMHO, has to go to Lep Soc and plenty of
Lep Soc members, qualified to this, apparently are willing from what I
have seen on this thread.
NABA's reasoning that they need a corrected list as soon as possible
because of the butterfly counts, field guides, etc. sounds specious to
me.  No matter who makes the list - it will change over the years and be
out of date -that is SCIENCE - which I hope we all are concerned with
I mean this in the most constructive way and hope it is accepted as
	                Hank Brodkin
	          Carr Canyon, Cochise County, AZ
                    Lat: 31.450, Long: 110.267
             SouthEast Arizona Butterfly Association

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